Dáil Éireann - Volume 433 - 29 June, 1993

Written Answers. - Emigrant Support Services.

111. Mr. E. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has satisfied himself with the level of service and support facilities available to emigrants from Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): The Government is very conscious of the needs of Irish emigrants and we are providing support in a number of practical ways. Special programmes are in place in Britain and in the United States and initiatives are also being undertaken in the European Community context.

In Britain, funding is provided for immigrant assistance groups through the DÍON Committee which reports to the Minister for Enterprise and Employment. The Government's grant to DÍON this year was £500,000; the Committee is extremely active and a reorganisation currently under way is intended to ensure that it will continue to operate with maximum effectiveness.

The Government also helps to fund the work of immigrant assistance groups in the United States; I recently announced an additional £100,000 grant for these groups which brings the total funding in the current year to £150,000. As in Britain, our diplomatic staff in the US devote very considerable time and resources to advising and assisting Irish immigrants. The Immigration Working Committees which meet under the auspices of our Consulates in New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, are particularly useful.

Through the Euroadviser Programme, FÁS has greatly strengthened its links with State employment services in all EC [92] countries; at present it has representatives in Germany and The Netherlands assisting Irish immigrants in those labour markets. The British and Irish authorities also operate a Transfrontier Committee (TFC) under EC auspices, which assists workers moving between the British and Irish labour markets.

An inter-Departmental Committee on Emigration, chaired by a representative of my Department, meets regularly to discuss all issues of relevance to emigrants. Apart from the special programmes in place in Britain and the US, our embassies throughout the world are available to provide assistance to emigrants when the need arises.

In summary, I am satisfied that a good deal of worthwhile support is made available to our emigrants; I intend to keep the situation under close review, bearing in mind both the needs of our emigrants and the budgetary constraints under which we must operate.